Bedroom Tax and pensioners – CIH deceiving with misinformation

A few weeks ago I released a blog saying mixed-age pensioner couples WILL be affected by the bedroom tax.  The first was here on 3 February, the second here on 7 February and then a third on 13 February.  I note today that Inside Housing has published the same issue today (15th February) – however this is not some I got there first rant from myself as in fact after I published my blogs on the issue I became aware that others had written about this before and Smiling Carcass was one of them.

Rather it is the sheer incredulity that CIH are using Inside Housing and trying to claim an exclusive and even then they don’t have the full detail and in fact mislead the reader by stating the mixed-age pensioner wont be affected until October.  This is nonsense and they can and will be affected from April.

Here is what Inside Housing say: –

More than 67,000 pensioners could be hit by the bedroom tax – despite the government’s insistence the controversial policy will only apply to people of working age.

Very strange!  The CIH released Making it Fit in June 2012 when they said that 90,000 would be affected and you can see this on page 10 of the report.  Where this figure of 67,000 has come from I don’t know yet the article goes on to tell us: –

Exclusive research carried out by the Chartered Institute of Housing for Inside Housing shows there are 67,000 households on housing benefit where one partner is over pension age and one is under.

Oh I see it is exclusive research with the CIH!  Ah would that be the same CIH that said it was 90,000 back in June 2012 and therefore why would there be a need for new research?  If for any reason I am missing as to the need for new research how can this be exclusive?  Ok reader a bit of a rant from me but let’s get to the real issues as we see the CIH dupe Inside Housing in this new and exclusive research manage to come up with misinformation!

Although these people won’t be hit by the under-occupation penalty, commonly known as the bedroom tax, from 1 April, they will be hit by the penalty when they move on to the new universal credit after October.

Oh dear!  This is false as I explained in my 13 February post above which looks at the DWP guidance and shows, unambiguously, that the mixed-age pensioner couple can and will be affected if there is a change in circumstances from 1 April. (SEE UPDATED NOTE AT END)

Inside Housing continue:

An impact assessment published by the Department for Work and Pensions last June said couples will remain on universal credit, which applies to working-age households, until both members of the couple reach pension age. The bedroom tax, under which social housing tenants will have their benefit cut if they have a spare room, will apply to all universal credit claimants.

This is true.  Yet IH have in this incredibly sloppy and disingenuous piece of reporting failed to mention the DWP guidance that I commented upon which shows that this can happen in april nt October and instead are presenting the DWP impact assessment of June as the latest piece of news when it clearly is not.  IH has failed to see they are being dupe by the CIH and they go on:-

Gavin Smart, policy and practice director at the CIH, described the findings as ‘extremely worrying’.

He said: ‘The government needs to make sure these people are protected as the transition to universal credit takes place.’

Now we see the CIH and Gavin Smart in particular trying to create NEW information to absolve them of their total cock-up with this charade! This is the same CIH which revealed the mixed-age couple pensioner bedroom tax issue in Making it Fit and authored by the CIH last year in June when Gavin was the same policy and practice director of the same CIH ….er!

Yet Gavin goes on to compound this farce and deceit and duping of IH when he says the government needs to make sure transitional protection is in place.  Do you think he means the same transitional protection issue I commented on in my third piece above…you know from the same DWP guidance that the CIh appear not to have seen…the one that says:

Claimants who come onto Universal Credit as a result of a change of circumstance meaning they need to apply to Universal Credit instead will not be entitled to Transitional Protection

Yes you would think that the policy and practice director at the Chartered Institute of Housing..you know that body that claims to represent housing would know about the housing policy of the government wouldn’t you?  You know the CIH that gives you a free subscription to…go on guess which magazine…a clue …ok its initials are IH..

The IH article continues with yet more sloppy misinformation when it gets a quote from the DWP: –

A DWP spokesperson confirmed such ‘mixed-age’ couples will be affected when they transfer to universal credit between October 2013 and 2017. He also said the younger person in the couple will benefit from ‘work incentives’ through universal credit

Oh dear and what are these work incentives dear reader?  Yes IH doesn’t tell us what they are!  Sorry I’ll correct that, the CIH in trying to dupe IH in this story feed IH some DWP propaganda!  IH doesn’t bother to ask what these ‘work incentives’ are and that in any case is sloppy journalism; Yet perhaps this is because they are ethereal – which is precisely the case and I direct you back to my blog on this of 7 February and the comment made there which says and correctly so that when UC comes live:-

All in-work help will disappear for them at a time when pension age is rising and more people have to continue working into old age”

So just to cap off this offensive article full of deceit and misinformation we now see IH spreading DWP propaganda after this being spoon-fed to them by the CIH.  There are no work incentives and in fact the exact opposite of what the DWP said.

UC comes live in October for existing or ‘legacy’ claims as they are known AND comes live from April 2013 as this becomes a new and not a legacy claim with a change in circumstance – a fundamental error missed by IH and CIH in the above article and one the housing sector cannot afford to ignore – and one of course the mixed-age pensioner tenant cannot afford to ignore as they WILL be affected.

Summary

It is no wonder the housing sector is way behind the curve when it gets its (mis)information on this massive issue from these sources and relies upon them for such information.  An issue that the CIH itself says is “massively worrying” – which it is – and I don’t need to patronise housing professionals about the importance of the whole bedroom tax debate of it impacting upon pensioners.

At best this is an incredibly sloppy piece of journalism.by IH  At worst it is full of deceit in its ‘exclusive’ claims that emanate from the CIH which tries to cover up their failure and ineptitude in sitting on the smoking gun. Further it is wrong on the information and fails to include very pertinent pieces of information; and then also gives propaganda to the DWP and simply reports without any investigation the clear DWP untruth that there are work incentives which they make a seemingly valid piece of information when in fact it is a lie.

The CIH Making if Fit report revealed the CIH knew in June 2012 that the bedroom tax would affect the mixed-age pensioner yet this purported lobby group for the sector has done absolutely bugger all with this ‘smoking gun’ for the coalition that pensioners ARE affected.

I have also posited recently that tenants perceive social landlords as complicit in the bedroom tax as they appear to have done so little about it.  So little when their representative body has known about the smoking gun since June and yet today in this woeful and offensive article try to make out this is NEW information!!

Making it Fit – June 2012 Published by CIH page 10 says: –

Older claimants

People who have already reached state pension credit age by April 2013 will not be subject to the size criteria. A couple are not subject to the size criteria where the eldest member has attained state pension credit age, even if the younger member is still of working age.

However, when universal credit is introduced in October 2013, it is likely that, for new claimants, both will be treated as working age and subject to the size criteria until they have both reached the qualifying age for state pension credit.

The DWP 2012 Universal Credit Briefing Note was released in December 2012 and as is the DWP guidance on transitional protection and the mixed-age pensioner couple – the one that CIH and IH don’t know about in the above report.  This is the guidance I refer to in the above.  Strange that I was always under the impression that the CIH liaise with DWP over housing benefit matters and have been saying the bedroom tax is the issue for its members for 18 months. The above suggests very strongly this is not the case.

Inside Housing has been duped here with CIH propaganda and misinformation in trying to cover its own backside.  The social landlord and housing professional who pay a fortune to this purported representative and professional body, the CIH, have been severely short-changed by the same CIH and the ones that don’t read this will dupe their tenants with the same misinformation.

Then again all those large social landlords with their own policy and strategy teams who seemingly rely upon the CIH for information also missed the June 2012 Making if Fit report which stated this and the December 2012 DWP guidance which proves my point that the bedroom tax does affect pensioners – something that even the DWP now admit in the article – so while many of you will enjoy the CIH getting a ‘good kicking’ here, you also need to look and ask why you missed this too!

UPDATED WITH NOTE

Above I say this will happen from 1 April and this is not entirely correct as I have looked again at the Universal Credit Regulations which will be implemented by Statutory Instrument on 29th April 2013.

From 29th April 2013 the mixed-age pensioner couple is definitely affected and the new claim that flows from the change in circumstances will be assessed using the UC regulations meaning the bedroom tax will apply

But what happens if the change in circumstance happens between 1st and 29th April 2013? 

I presume that as this period is AFTER the legacy date for transitional protection yet BEFORE the date UC regulations are fully applied that the pensioner here will receive transitional protection from the bedroom tax in this period.  I cannot see anything on this in the regulations and presumably this is just another matter the DWP had not thought about.  So I can’t be certain on what happens in the first 4 weeks of April though it seems logical that transitional protection will apply as I have said.

SECOND UPDATE – 2PM

A bit of a spat has emerged on Twitter over this with Carl Brown the IH journalist who has taken offence to my charge of this is sloppy journalism.  I maintain it is for many reasons:

  1. Why did IH not ask CIH why it has taken 8 months (from June to February) to come up with this ‘new’ research?
  2. Why has IH not asked CIH why it maintains pensioners wont be affected until October?
  3. Why has IH published DWP propaganda over the ‘work incentives’ which are not there as the guidance proves conclusively?
  4. Why has IH not asked CIH why it has not read either the UC regulations or the UC guidance on transitional protection?
  5. Why has IH not said to CIH you have known about this since June 2012 and now you feign surprise that is does affect pensioners?

I could go on with many examples but as I said in my opening paragraph this is NOT about me having a rant over who said this first, it is ALL ABOUT the MISINFORMATION contained within the article.  That is the ONLY thing that truly matters.  Note too I also said in the opening to this that the Smiling Carcass blog beat me to this so this is not about my ‘ownership’ of any story it is ALL ABOUT MISINFORMATION.

It is about the CIH trying to cover its own backside for me with the feigned surprise and it has to be feigned as they published the information they now feign surprise at EIGHT MONTHS AGO!  That in itself is another story here.

Note too that I mentioned in original post that this is all about giving the CIH a kicking and not me having a pop at Carl or IH – except to say that their usual very high standards have clearly slipped here and the article is sloppy.  For those that read Inside Housing when was the last time a huge ‘exclusive’ like this was published WITHOUT the supporting evidence?  If Inside Housing commissioned CIH to do this as the article says they own the evidence so there is no reason not to publish it which is their usual to-be-applauded way.  IH and Carl has written many excellent articles and the real villain of the piece is the CIH here.

Why has IH not stated in this ‘new’ information that the numbers affected by the bedroom tax has risen by 10%  – a nice and usual headline one would expect when the 67,000 newly affected cases add to the previous 660,000.  Why has IH not picked up that Don Foster a CLG Minister said in parliament this week that there are 390,000 who under-occupy by 2 bedrooms or more when the DWP figures say it is only 120,000.  A clear linked issue and one that takes the bedroom tax affected to 930,000 – the 660,000 and Foster’s newly claimed and additional 270,000 – which when you add in the new 67,000 would give a headline of ONE MILLION SOCIAL HOUSEHOLDS NOW AFFECTED BY THE BEDROOM TAX!

The claimed exclusive from IH would have had so much more impact wouldn’t it?  Yet instead we see the highly respected opinion of IH across the sector being tarnished with MISINFORMATION and OMISSION of key facts which Carl wrongly says I am conflating.

Moreover, instead of such spats, we should be rejoicing in the fact the DWP have now ADMITTED THE BEDROOM TAX AFFECTS PENSIONERS and shouting that from the bloody rooftops!!

One real new piece of news.  The only reason I began writing about this was that a social tenant had seen the Making it Fit report and alerted me to it.  How incredibly inept is that of the CIH, the rest of the housing lobbies, Inside Housing, other housing journalists, social landlords and yes even myself had less knowledge and awareness of this than an eagle-eyed tenant.

I’m not excusing myself but as my blogs prove I have been writing about far more damaging welfare reforms such as direct payments and the overall benefit cap and especially the systemic and fundamental flaws it holds and why it will directly create a mass homelessness diaspora for the past 18 months, as the Camden story this week reveals.  That’s explanation not excuse.

How many large HAs and councils and ALMOs have a policy and strategy department and missed this?  Where the hell has the omnipotent older persons lobbies been on this and why have they missed it? Yes we all make mistakes.

The fight and challenge against the bedroom tax has come from direct action of tenants and activists and not – with a few honorable exceptions – from social landlords or the housing sector.  It is they who have made the bedroom tax households news and on the TV news and current affairs programmes.  It is they who have forced the political opposition to this from Labour that saw the bedroom tax be the first item on Prime Minister Questions last week.  Now we are beginning (at last!) to see social landlords have some balls and openly criticise the bedroom tax as they recognise the huge reputational risk of tenant perception that they may be complicit in the bedroom tax.  Note the perception (rightly or wrongly) is the risk social landlords and the sector has missed and I first raised over a year ago.  The risk that caused some activists to stage a sit-in at LMH and then saw LMH release an excellent news release that the bedroom tax can’t work in Liverpool.  Would this have happened without the sit in or without the excellent work done by Wigan and Leigh Housing earlier that week getting the bedroom tax increased and not reduced public purse cost arguments onto national TV news?

However and in summary the real villains of the piece is the CIH with their feigned surprise at this which for me and I think for most is the CIH attempting to cover its own backside on why it has done nothing about this since June 2012.

Time for the sector to stop squabbling and having petty spats over this and whether the bedroom tax is a tax or not and remember what someone once said….

we are all in this together!!

Advertisements

3 thoughts on “Bedroom Tax and pensioners – CIH deceiving with misinformation

  1. well one more benefit of SM is that there are passionate people out there like you who DO notice and who shout about it loudly enough that people who do need to know and understand the implications and assess the impacts of these… anomalies…. can do something about it – in most cases even if this is just making sure their own advice and support to their tenants is accurate and not mis information?

  2. “A DWP spokesperson confirmed such ‘mixed-age’ couples will be affected when they transfer to universal credit between October 2013 and 2017. He also said the younger person in the couple will benefit from ‘work incentives’ through universal credit”

    What he probably meant was “We are providing work incentives by reducing such couples’ income to a pittance and labelling them scroungers who are undeserving of a small ‘spare’ bedroom in which grandchildren or even more elderly parents can stay over sometimes.

    The irony is that if the even if the younger partner does work/increase their hours,the couple will still suffer these same penalties. It is very depressing!

  3. Let’s not forget that there is a lot more to this than just the bedroom tax. Now that this has made the news, we mustn’t allow the media to concentrate on that issue alone.

    The other financial implications regarding mixed-age pensioners and UC need to be publicised and challenged alongside the bedroom tax..

    Those mixed-age couples that do see themselves shifted over to UC for one reason or another face a potentially hugh reduction of their benefit. In many ways, this is even nore serious than the bedroom tax.

    Moreove, someone who becomes a pensioner after UC comes in will still be just that – a pensioner – so age-support groups should be fighting for them too.

Please leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s